To examine the utility of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for the screening of cervical cancer and its precursors, a prospective cohort study was performed in which a total of 8156 women with a median age of 36 years were enrolled. Two smear samples scraped from the uterine cervix were served for Papanicolaou test and HPV DNA testing (Hybrid Capture-II system). HPV-positive samples were further examined for HPV subtype using a DNA microarry chip. Women with cytologic abnormality or those with high-risk HPV DNA were further examined by colposcopy to determine histologic diagnosis. High-risk HPV DNA was detected in 11% of the general population, with higher prevalence of specific types, including 52, 16, 58, 51, 56, and 18. As expected, younger women were likely to have increased frequency of HPV infection. Notably, HPV DNA testing detected all 45 cases of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 3, while cytologic findings were negative in 6 of these cases. It is of particular interest that CIN was commonly associated with multiple HPV types, while invasive cancers had a single type of HPV. In terms of both sensitivity and positive predictive value in detecting the CIN, HPV DNA testing is superior to cytology. However, most importantly, HPV DNA testing in combination with cytology significantly improved the efficacy to CIN screening.